Multiple long-term conditions

Exploring the links between community debt advice and better health

with the Money and Pensions Service

At Impact on Urban Health we know that our mental, physical and financial health are all connected. We recently began a new partnership with the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS) that explores how better debt advice can improve the health of people struggling with the cost of living.

We want to better understand the value of community-based debt advice services to the health of the individual, the community, and wider society. This is to help inform what types of services will be commissioned by MaPS or funded by Impact on Urban Health in future. 

To do that, over the next year, we will look at what people need from debt advice, and how community-based services help people improve their financial resilience and build better health. 

Connecting better debt advice to better health

Our research shows that our mental, physical, and financial health are deeply intertwined. Illness has an impact on people’s ability to work and earn, with ONS data showing that the number of Britons out of work due to long-term sickness is at a record high of 2.5m people.   

This pattern of ill health and personal finance concerns is difficult to break, especially for people already living on low incomes from Black and other ethnically minoritised communities.  Black communities across the UK are more than twice as likely to be struggling financially and more than three times as likely to live in a household that is behind on bills or rent. 

“At Impact on Urban Health, we know that the people most vulnerable to the rising cost of living are often underserved by financial services. These are people who may already be living with chronic illness and face challenges due to their income, race, disability, or caring responsibilities. 

“We believe that better financial inclusion – easy access to appropriate advice – can help to build better financial resilience and make a positive impact on health. Our partnership with MaPS seeks to develop a better understanding of what people need from debt advice and the value of community-based services, all with the aim of better health in mind.”

 Barbara Reichwein, Programme Director at Impact on Urban Health

Studies by MaPS  show that health and care professionals acknowledge the need for better financial support. Earlier this year, nearly half (47%) reported increased numbers of patients talking about financial problems over the previous six months. 76% of professionals believe that talking about money can prevent health issues further down the line. 

“Money and health are strongly linked and struggles with one can often severely impact the other. This is particularly the case with problem debt, which can cause stress, anxiety, and poor physical and mental health.    

Through this partnership, we’re looking to get even more insight into what people need from debt advice and how community-based and national services can improve their lives. By working together, we can better understand how to give people the support they need, when they need it, in the way they want to access it.”

Christy McAleese, Debt Advice Strategy Lead at the Money and Pensions Service

Exploring the holistic benefits of community debt advice

The partnership work includes new research investigating the value of community debt advice services, and workshops with debt advice providers who are embedded in diverse communities facing challenges with their bills, debts, and arrears.  

Design and change agency Rooted by Design will be key to conceptualizing and delivering the research, as well as developing the workshops and partnership learning sessions on community-based debt advice. 

Research by the partnership will focus on people whose particular needs are often underserved by the financial advice sector – like people living on low incomes, or with long-term health conditions, from Black and other ethnically minoritised communities.   

Community-based debt advisors often work with clients who are considered vulnerable or are facing significant mental health challenges.  MaPS and Impact on Urban Health also want to find solutions to improve debt adviser well-being at work to ensure they are properly supported to continue the work they do as the need for their services increases. 

“We are excited to lead such an important and timely project that has the potential to bring much needed insight into the value of community-based financial support services.

“Enabling the mission of the partnership between Impact on Urban Health and the Money and Pensions Service creates a unique opportunity to centre equity in how we understand and value community infrastructure both now and in the future.”

– Julian Thompson, CEO, Rooted by Design

For enquiries please contact:

Claire Diamond, Communications Manager at Impact on Urban Health 

MaPS Press Office